How to Catch King Mackerel: Fishing Tips For The Kingfish

Kristian Ole



When it comes to fishing, nothing compares to catching a King Mackerel. For anglers looking to test their skill and reap the rewards of a big catch, a King Mackerel can offer a truly unforgettable experience.

To catch a king Mackerel, you need to have the right gear. A sturdy rod and reel combo is a must, as is the right type of bait. Next, cast your line into deep waters and wait for a bite. Once you feel a bite, start reeling in the fish and keep your rod tip pointed up. With patience and practice, you can catch a king mackerel successfully. 

With years of experience in angling, I’ve crafted an informative guide on mastering the art of King Mackerel fishing. I’ll explain the best techniques for catching this elusive fish in this article. I will also discuss the best baits and lures and the proper equipment to ensure a successful fishing trip. So, let’s get started!

Species Overview

Common namesKing Mackarel, Kingfish
Latin nameScomberomorus cavalla
Size19.7-35.4 inches
Weight90 – 100 Pounds
Where to findMassachusetts, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina 
Preferred seasonSpring and Summer
Best weatherWarm weather
Temperature680 F – 730 F

Gear & Setup 

Fishing LocationOuter reefs and coastal waters.
TechniqueTrolling, Live Bait fishing, Jigging
Best baitMenhaden, Pilchards, Mullet, Threadfin herring
Best luresSquid, Slime Mackerel and Yellowtail Scad
Fishing rod length7 ft
Fishing rod actionMedium-heavy to Heavy action rod
KnotsPalomar knot
Fishing line20-30 lbs Monofilament or Fluorocarbon line
ReelPENN Torque reels with a 6:1 gear ratio

Fighting a King Mackerel

Fishing for king mackerel is an exhilarating challenge for even the most experienced anglers. With their large size and fighting spirit, king mackerel are a prize to catch for recreational anglers. 

King Mackerel have razor-sharp teeth and strong jaws that can easily rip through bait and tackle. They also aggressively strike at the bait, often coming out of the water in pursuit of their prey.

When you hook a King Mackerel, you can expect powerful runs, acrobatic leaps, and exciting action! King Mackerels are known for their ferocity and strength, making them a challenge to catch. However, having the right gear and tackle is of utmost importance for a successful fight with a King Mackerel.

Tackle for a King Mackerel

King Mackerels can weigh an incredible 90 to 100 pounds. Therefore, a heavy-duty rod and reel combination is best, as it can handle the powerful runs of this fish. Here’s what you’ll need to tackle a King Mackerel.


A good fishing rod will give you an edge when tackling a King Mackerel. Use a 7-foot rod length to give you the reach and strength to land your catch. 

A medium-heavy action rod with a fast tip is also the best, as it will give you the power to set the hook in the fish’s mouth quickly. The rod action also provides greater accuracy when casting, which can be a game changer when aiming for a specific spot.


The best reel for the job can handle the strength and power of these large fish while also providing you with the best performance. 

When choosing a reel, you should look for an extensive line capacity, a robust drag system, and reliable and durable construction. You also want to ensure that the reel is comfortable and lightweight enough to maneuver easily. 

As an experienced angler, I recommend a PENN Torque reel. The reel’s design can handle larger fish with its durable construction and powerful drag systemand a 6:1 gear ratio due to their strength and fast line retrieval.

Fishing Line

Using the correct fishing line is vital for catching Kingfish. You want a line that will give you enough strength and flexibility to handle the fish’s powerful runs and sharp teeth. 

The best fishing line for catching King Mackerel is typically a heavy-duty monofilament or braided line with a minimum breaking strength of 20-30 lbs. This ensures that the line can withstand the strength of the fish and not snap under pressure.

Best Locations for Fishing a King Mackerel

king mackerel fishing open sea
Image: ruthieprasil, pixabay

Location is crucial when you’re looking to land a King Mackerel. You need to know the best spots to cast your line. 

In the United States, you can often find King Mackerel in the coastal waters of the western Atlantic, from Massachusetts to the northern Gulf of Mexico. You will also catch King Mackerel from August through October in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina waters.

To maximize your chances of catching a King Mackerel, look for areas with sandy bottoms, steep drop-offs, and strong currents. These areas are often located near inlets, jetties, and nearshore reefs. 

If you’re fishing from a boat, look for areas with depths of at least 30 feet. If you’re fishing from shore, try areas where the water is at least 10 feet deep. Additionally, keep an eye out for baitfish, as King Mackerel are often attracted to areas where baitfish are abundant.

It is important to remember that King Mackerel are migratory fish, so the best time to catch them is when they are in season.

Fishing Techniques


The best way to catch one of these feisty fish is to equip yourself with a heavy action spinning rod and reel, loaded with anywhere from 20 to 30-pound monofilament line. Then, attach a 1/0 or 2/0 size hook to the end, and add a heavy sinker to the line.

It’s essential to understand the various fishing techniques for Kingfish to increase your chances of success. The method you use will depend on the size of the King Mackerel, the boat’s speed, and the type of lures or baits. 

Here are the three best techniques you can use when fishing for a King Mackerel.


The troll movement is often attractive to Mackerel and can result in a successful catch. 

Start by attaching a trolling lure to the end of your line. Then, use a slow and steady trolling motion while keeping the line taut. This will allow the lure to move through the water and attract the attention of the King Mackerel. 

It is important to keep a constant speed. You can pick Riptide 55s 55 lb Thrust Motor as the best trolling motor. Also, adjust the depth of the line to ensure that the lure stays in the strike zone.

After you have hooked a Kingfish, bring it in using a reel with a high drag setting. Make sure to keep the rod tip up and the line tight to ensure the Kingfish cannot shake the hook. Once you have brought the Kingfish in, you can use a net to get it onto the boat. 

Live Bait

Live bait fishing is an advantageous technique for catching a King Mackerel. Live baits such as squid, pilchards, or threadfin herring are famous. You’ll want to use a giant bait you can get for the best success. 

First, set your hook by attaching an attracting bait and then wait for Kingfish to take it before you reel it in. You’ll also want to keep an eye on your line and ensure it stays taut while waiting for the fish to bite. Once you hook King Mackerel, use the rod and reel to bring the fish in.


Jigging is another effective way of catching King Mackerel. 

First, cast your lure out and let it sink to the bottom. Then, begin a slow, steady retrieve with short, jerky movements of the rod tip. A medium to fast retrieve is typically the best choice. This means you’ll bring the jig back to the surface at a steady pace, with a few quick jerks now and again. 

Quickly set the hook when you feel a strike and begin reeling in the fish. To get the best results, ensure to vary the speed and strength of your retrieves – this will trigger strikes from the King Mackerel. 

Related: How to Catch Tarpon: Fishing Tips For The Silver King


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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